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Draft Tukituki Decision Means Unachievable Expectations

Irrigation New Zealand Says Draft Tukituki Decision Means Unachievable Expectations for Irrigators

Irrigation New Zealand will today submit its formal comments to the Board of Inquiry regarding the Board’s draft decision on the Tukituki catchment and Ruataniwha dam. The Board was this week given a one month extension to make their final decision.

‘We believe that the draft decision could have a very serious detrimental impact on this region’s community, not only for the farmers but for those employed by the food processing companies which rely heavily on primary production,’ says Andrew Curtis, Irrigation New Zealand CEO.

‘Hawke’s Bay GDP growth was -1.3% in 2013 and further job losses will exacerbate this shrinking economy,’ he says.

The decision means that approximately 1000 farms which are over 4ha require a farm management plan by 2018, and it is likely that over 700 farms will require land use consent for farming activities.

‘There simply isn’t the capability and capacity to produce this many farm management plans by 2018. Land Use Capability mapping skills can’t be picked up overnight. Farm plans need to be targeted to the ‘hot-spots’ rather than a sweeping approach which becomes impractical and prohibitively expensive,’ says Mr Curtis.

The practical effect of the nutrient limits set in the decision means existing land use will likely be ‘locked in’. This will impact sheep and beef farmers the most because it means no changes in sheep/beef stock ratios or crop rotations. The flexibility which these farmers rely on to manage international commodity price swings will be compromised and land values will also be impacted.

For more intensive land uses, such as vegetable cropping and dairy farming, farmers will have to achieve nitrate limits which technology does not currently allow for.

‘There is no doubt that farmers in the region accept and agree that farming practices have to change. But trying to achieve unrealistic limits in a short time based on farming systems which do not yet exist will create significant financial stress, will put huge strain on council and farming resources and will hurt local communities,’ says Mr Curtis.

‘We all want to get these decisions right,’ says Curtis. ‘For the sake of the river and for the sake of the community. It is about finding a way forward which is workable for all. We look forward to the final decision by Board on June 28.’


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